Welcome to Teaching Classical Languages (TCL). TCL is the peer-reviewed, online journal dedicated to exploring how we teach (and how we learn) Greek and Latin. TCL is sponsored by the Classical Association of the Middle West and South (CAMWS).
Volume 11, Issue 2
Volume 11,Issue 2
Abstracts of Articles
“Lupercal” is a Latin reading group that works to close the gender gap in spoken Latin by providing spaces for women and non-binary Latinists to learn from each other. Until February 2020, our nearly 20 groups met in-person across the world to discuss excerpts from Boccaccio’s De Mulieribus Claris and to address gender issues in the field of Classics. COVID-19, however, compelled us to move towards online meeting spaces such as the weekly “Cozy in the Wolves’ Cave” reading group. In this new world of social isolation, Lupercal has created a sense of community and continuity for our members through regular and free reading groups and spoken Latin hours as well as online events. Through our new internship program, Lupercal is now creating opportunities for its youngest members and creating new growth and contribution spaces.This paper discusses the various programs and initiatives that we have hosted in order to increase opportunities not only to learn and speak Latin but also to develop personal and professional relationships with one another. While in-person groups were geographically centered, this new online format has allowed members from around the world to participate. Moreover, we have seen a significant rise in membership in our Facebook Group and book requests, indicating that this new format has increased accessibility and interest. This paper ends by briefly discussing the specifics of the challenges that have arisen and the ways in which Lupercal has adapted and transitioned its lessons into an online format with a significantly larger attendance while staying committed to its mission of accessibility and growth. Through these efforts, Lupercal has allowed members from all over the world to get to know one another and build a new online learning community, while others, traditionally grounded in a physical location, have been put on hold.
In this essay, I argue that the massive change in educational circumstances brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic require a similarly drastic shift in pedagogical approach from classics teachers. In particular, I argue that classicists of all kinds have much to gain from reflecting on (i) an ancient literary tradition, i.e., the genre of the epistolary Consolatio in ancient philosophy (especially Stoicism and Epicureanism), to help both themselves and their students regain a sense of purpose and relevance in their classical studies, and incorporating (ii) insights from contemporary theory in social and emotional learning (SEL) in their teaching practice. Together, I think these can help us to reimagine our teaching roles during this time of unprecedented emergency as one of consolator-discipulus rather than just magister-discipulus.
During the lockdown period, with schools closed, teachers across the world have had to adapt their classroom teaching practices to the relatively new methodology of online teaching. There is a large amount of literature on this approach, covering course design, pedagogical strategies, assessment and so on. Much of this pertains to the idea of the ‘future’ school, where learners stay mostly at home and share teaching models given by global experts, and is driven by the higher education sector’s needs for outreach and a desire for improving social equity (Searle, Jack- son & Scott 2019). For the study of classical languages and literature, there has been little for teachers to turn to that is relevant to their immediate needs during this crisis. My co-edited book Teaching Classics with Technology (Natoli & Hunt, 2019) provided some samples of practices that could help teachers better orient themselves to the new environment, such as distance-learning (Walden, 2019) and the Virtual Learning Environment (Lewis, 2019). Nevertheless, this moment provides a unique opportunity not just to consider how teachers are using online teaching and learning to deal with this moment in time, but also to critically investigate how the experience might lead to further integration of digital resources into standard classroom/home settings when the crisis is over. Casual observations of teachers’ inquiries on social media such as Twitter and Facebook suggest that they share not just a concern with the practical use of unfamiliar technology, but that they are led to question the very ways in which they have previously taught. The Classics teachers value technology highly, allowing students to see the teacher, even if not all the time. The teacher’s own voice is felt to be as engaging for maintaining student engagement as is the image of the teacher. Teachers explored a range of types of technology that afforded both synchronous and asynchronous teaching and learning activities. They developed their own routines of using both approaches for consistency of delivery, assessment, and feedback, and managing their students’ work-life balances. Crisis-led online teaching and learning has be- gun to change teachers’ thoughts about their practices and may in the long-term impact on current modes of assessment.
Recent research comparing fully online beginning level modern foreign language classes versus face-to-face classes has suggested no significant difference between the learning outcomes achieved via the different instructional formats (Moneypenny and Aldrich; Sato, Chen, and Jourdain; Blake and Delforge). At Indiana State University, online courses in beginning level modern foreign language classes have been offered for several years and provided a template for classical language classes to quickly transition from face-to-face instruction to fully online instruction during the Spring 2020 semester. This article assesses the utility and effectiveness of some of the teaching methods currently used in those classes for a beginning ancient Greek course. Lecture archiving and video conferencing were the most useful methods for teaching in an online format, but it was difficult to recreate online the in-class exercises critical for reinforcing lessons in morphology and grammar. In the author’s view, any attempt to move classical language classes fully online would require smaller beginning class sizes than currently offered (fewer than 25 students), significant online support from textbook publishers like that provided for modern foreign language instruction, and validation through studies that demonstrate that fully online classical language classes are capable of achieving learning outcomes similar to those achieved in face-to-face classes (e.g., by using the ACTFL ALIRA test for Latin classes).
Surviving to Thriving: Supporting Graduate Student Instructors and Teaching Assistants During the Transition to Online Teaching
Though we all survived the rapid transition to emergency remote instruction in the spring, many of us were so caught up in managing our own stressful transitions that our role in mentoring and guiding our graduate student instructors and teaching assistants became subject to neglect. This must change going forward. Thinking the crisis has passed or will do so by the end of the calendar year does not recognize the reality of the situation facing Classics. We must invest more time in helping our instructors manage their own instructional design challenges. Undergraduates were forgiving in the spring, but there are already signs expectations will be heightened for the fall and beyond. A discipline as reliant on enrolment for its continued survival as Classics cannot afford complacency at this critical juncture particularly when graduate students teach so many undergraduate courses (ca. 25% of all undergraduate students in Classics at Florida State University) and the application of thin-slicing (first impressions) to retention is clear. This reflective essay draws on my experience as the Supervisor of Teaching Assistants in the Department of Classics at Florida State University to provide guidance for faculty members in supporting graduate student instructors during this crisis.
Digital “Weekly Workbooks” in an Asynchronous Latin Classroom: Keeping all the Digital Resources in Check for Your Students
Asynchronous learning poses unique challenges to the Latin classroom, especially since many Latin classrooms focus on various interdisciplinary topics throughout a school week. This report examines how a teacher used Google Slides to create weekly workbooks for asynchronous digital learning. The requirements set by the school district for these lessons included asynchronous learning, daily time limits for work, and restrictions to grading and feedback. By using Google Slides, the teacher created a template which; would be familiar to students week by week; would cover a variety of topics to Latin study consis- tently; limit the amount of work for students to locate and navigate a multitude of digital resources and create a compact unit of material for students to submit and for the teacher to grade. This report aims to reflect on the implementation of these workbooks and provide a potential template from which other teachers may model their asynchronous lessons.
As many Latin and ancient Greek teachers are transitioning into the world of on- line and hybrid learning, they are searching for the most effective strategies they can use to engage their students and enhance their learning experience online. The discussion will examine several strategies to create an effective online experience for ourselves and our students.